The United States Senate approved a bill on Wednesday for emergency relief aid during the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Washington Post reports. The bill ensures that people who are employed in places with less than 500 employees will receive paid benefits while on leave. It also offers free testing for uninsured people and expands federal funding for medical coverage.

The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 14th, and now with the Senate’s approval, it is headed to President Trump, CNN reports. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the package will include “paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.”

This bill is especially important for workers because small businesses are being hit hard by the novel coronavirus after being ordered to close their doors. Several small business employees have organized GoFundMe campaigns to aid them in securing basic needs during this labor collapse.

The stock market has also been severely impacted by the effects of the virus. The Dow Jones industrial average has fallen by more than 6%, with most assets under siege as the panic continues. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States Treasury is also requesting a backstop to money markets, with a potential stimulus package of nearly 1 trillion dollars.

For many across the globe, this crisis is economic, spiritual, physical and environmental. Elective surgeries are being canceled until COVID-19 is contained, and the Surgeon General is urging all health care providers to do the same.

Community organizations are supporting each other in figuring out ways to protect the most impacted, sometimes literally going door to door handing out survival packages. Though the shelter in place orders make it challenging, first responders, community organizers and allies are thinking about creative ways to reach more folks. It is about time the government started following suit, even if this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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ESSENCE is committed to bringing our audience the latest facts about COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our content team is closely monitoring the developing details surrounding the virus via official sources and health care experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Please continue to refresh ESSENCE’s informational hub for updates on COVID-19, as well as tips for taking care of yourselves, your families, and your communities.

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